GREENSBORO, November 22, 2011 - Injuries kept North Carolina A&T running back Mike Mayhew away from the field during spring practice and most of North Carolina A&T's August camp.
But on cold, breezy, rainy day in Baltimore, Md., Mayhew turned loose for 233 rushing yards and a touchdown against Morgan State. All of sudden the Mayhew everyone was expecting to see in 2011, showed up and never left the remainder of the season.
As a result, on Tuesday, Mayhew earned Co-MEAC Offensive Player of the Year honors along with Norfolk State quarterback Chris Walley. Mayhew also earned his second straight first-team All-MEAC selection, joining Aggie cornerback Justin Ferrell, who is making his third appearance on the first team. Wide receiver Wallace Miles and offensive lineman Alex Harper were second-team selections.
"Outstanding. Excellent," said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway, upon hearing the news of Mayhew's accomplishment. "I'm happy and proud of him. If he can get himself healthy, fully healthy, he can separate himself from most others in this league."
Mayhew (JR, 5-10, 205, Charlotte, N.C.) is regarded as one of the best players in the Football Championship Subdivision. Before the start of the season, Mayhew earned a spot on the Walter Payton Watch List, which is a list of the best FCS offensive players in the nation.
A number of injuries slowed him down and made him not have the appearance of an elite back. In each of his first three games, he failed to rush for 70 yards. Then there was the Morgan State game, where he led the Aggies to a 24-3 win.
"Once I got off the bus today, I was feeling it," said Mayhew after the game. "I was in that zone. My offensive line stepped up today. (Offensive line coach Keith Wagner) told us all week it was time for a 100-yard game. We've been slacking the first three games, so I'm glad we got it going."
Mayhew went on to have four more 100-yard games. His 117-yard performance against Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 8 had B-CU head coach Brian Jenkins comparing him to Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk.
Mayhew recently ended the season with 163 yards against archrival N.C. Central. The performance put him well over 1,000 yards for the season, making him just the second player in school history to go over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. The only other Aggie to accomplish the feat is Maurice Hicks.
Hicks, a former NFL player, is also the last Aggie to win conference offensive player of the year honors, earning his award in 2001. Only 163 yards separates Mayhew from Hicks' school-record 2,812 career rushing yards. In 2009, Mayhew became the first Aggie in school history to earn MEAC Rookie of the Year honors.
Ferrell (SR, 5-9, 185, Danville, Va.) hasn't had a shabby career either. Ferrell has played safety, cornerback and returned kicks during his career at N.C. A&T. This season as a corner, he got his hands on 17 passes and intercepted four. A year earlier, he returned three kicks for touchdowns to earn first-team MEAC honors as return specialist. As a sophomore free safety, he intercepted six passes to make first team.
Miles (r-SR, 6-1, 193, Atlanta, Ga.) recently rewrote the Aggie record books. He led the conference in receptions and receiving yards. His 123-yard receiving performance against N.C. Central on Nov. 19 made him the first Aggie player in school history to go over 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. Miles now owns single season records in yards (1,048) and receptions (70), and he shares the career record for catches with 172.
Harper (SR, 6-5, 330, Baltimore, Md.) was a four-year starter for the Aggies, and played every position along the offensive line except center. Harper played right guard this season and led the team in knockdown blocks. He graded out high during film study toward the end of the season.
He is a major reason why Mayhew is the Co-Offensive Player of the Year.